Most guys I have spent a length of time with aren’t very good when it comes to suffering from illness or pain. Baz on the other hand is one of those rare men who doesn’t actively seek sympathy or someone to make him feel better. He makes minimal fuss. Possibly spares a word or two about what’s going on. And that’s it. He just gets on with it.
I’ve actually had to ask him to “use his words” when I’ve found out in hindsight that he’s had some physical illness or discomfort for a few days. Because I actually want to help. Not in a smothering mothering way, but just be there if he needs something. You know, we’re in each other’s lives “for better or worse” but I can’t help him through the ‘worse’ if I don’t know about it. So it can be a tad frustrating at times. Maybe I should just be grateful when I see him get on stoically. But I seriously like the ‘we’ part of we’re married.
Things get very bad very quickly
On the 29th of December 2021 however, I was about to discover what it was actually like for Barry to tell me what was going on and to feel very concerned when he told me.
Anyway, let’s get to the situation at hand – just before he ended up in hospital the first time.
We were at a dinner party with our mates Ant and Cid, on Phil and Cristina’s boat, enjoying a delicious meal. Conversation was good, so was the accompanying wine and I was having a lovely evening. Until I noticed that Baz had become quieter and quieter. I glanced over to him and noticed that when he lifted his fork in his right hand to scoop up some of the tasty lasagne, his hand shook so much the food fell back onto the plate.
OMG has he got the DTs? I wondered. Has his alcohol consumption finally caught up with him? Has anyone else noticed?
I gave Barry a sideways look but he seemed as if he wanted to persevere with whatever was going on, although he did put down the fork. A little later we had dessert; Cristina had made a fabulous chocolate mousse, but Baz turned it down. Now I knew something was really amiss. I looked at him again and his face had turned a pale grey colour. I wasn’t sure whether to say something, but Barry looked as if he was trying to continue on, so I decided to not mention anything.
Shortly after that, Phil asked him if he was okay. Baz said he didn’t think so and that he had a bad pain in his right side and perhaps it would be better if we went home.
By the time we got up on deck and put his shoes on, Baz was holding his side and wincing with obvious discomfort. Every footstep along the pontoon to A B Sea seemed to make it worse and with every step, he shouted out in pain, saying the muscles all up the right side of his back were also spasming and he felt as if he was being stabbed.
This is a guy who usually remains silent at the best of times. Generally when he’s ill too. So here he was making agonised sounds with every breath, walking all hunched up against the pain. I was becoming more concerned.
“Do you think you should go to hospital?” I asked, wondering if this is what a heart attack presented like.
“No, just get me back to the boat,” he panted between breaths.
After what seemed an age walking down pontoons that I swear were double in length than normal, we got him down below on A B Sea.
I tried everything we had in the medicine cabinet. Muscle pain relief cream. Magnesium tablet. Magnesium spray directly onto the muscles. Magnesium cream onto the muscles. A half an effervescent Potassium tablet. Waited. Waited some more.
“Any change?” No.
Essential oils came out, got rubbed in.
By this time Barry was looking very grey and was still doubled over with pain, shouting out with each breath. He said he couldn’t take in a breath deeply enough to fill his lungs.
At that point Baz said he couldn’t get enough oxygen and that he needed to go to hospital.
Taxi ran three red lights
After helping him put on his shoes and coat, I ran ahead and got a taxi, with the help of Google translate who told them it was an emergency. The lovely old taxi driver drove up to the pontoon and Baz bundled in, crying out all the time in pain with every breath.
Realising it was possibly a life and death situation, the taxi driver ran three red lights
as he made his way quickly to the local government hospital in Finike.
There, Barry was quickly processed and triage sent him straight into the Emergency Observation Ward.
Every test under the sun
The doctor arrived quickly and I was very grateful that she spoke English. And then I watched as they hooked him up to the vital signs monitor, performed many blood tests, gave him an MRI, an angiograph on various internal organs and an electrocardiogram. They gave him an intravenous drip to which they added various salts. And to help with the pain, added morphine into the mix.
The morphine didn’t kick in and the doctor asked if Baz took opioids! I said no, but he does drink heavily at night to help him sleep as he has sleep apnoea. She said that would explain it and the sleep apnoea also explained why they had detected that his heart was enlarged.
Eventually after about five hours in the ward, they injected the rest of the morphine into his buttock and that did the trick. Within minutes the pain was receding.
As they couldn’t find anything serious and couldn’t explain the pain, except something had triggered the spasming muscles, they discharged him, along with a list of everything they’d done and given him, a relatively small bill 919.58 TL (AU$94), three discs containing the scan results and a prescription for strong pain killers, an antispasmodic tablet and also a cream. The lovely doctor also suggested that Barry see a cardiologist in the near future to ensure his enlarged heart wouldn’t give him any trouble.
Two hours sleep before paying the bill
We got home at about 5am and Baz stayed up on the couch for a while before he went to lie down. I rolled into bed with the alarm on for two hours later so I could get up and get to the hospital to pay the bill at 9am. I also wanted to get his prescription filled early, as the morphine wouldn’t last forever.
Özel Medikum Hastanesi, (Private hospital) Kumluca
A few days later the pain killers were working a little and his back muscles were slightly less painful, but the pain in Barry’s side persisted.
I contacted my wonderful doctor in Kaş, Dr.Munise Ozan, told her about Barry’s condition and asked if she could recommend a cardiologist. She gave us the contact details of Ali Edibali who is the International Liaison Manager at Özel Medikum Hastanesi which is a private hospital in Kumluca, the next town along the coast from Finike.
After contacting him and giving him details, Ali came back very quickly with an appointment for that afternoon! We had to hire a car so he changed the appointment for 10am the following morning.
We rented a hire car from Tarık at Tarık Turizm in the marina. Originally we only hired it for a day, but rehired it for seven days as the hospital visit would take two days. We thought we’d use the other days to do some sightseeing.
What a great hospital!
Ali was wonderful. He speaks great English and basically spent the whole visit with us, and took Barry to each of the specialists (cardiologist and internal medicine). Baz had a heart stress test on a treadmill, which gave good results. He also had an EKG (electrocardiogram) and a couple of consultations with the cardiologist. Everything checked out okay.
The internal medicine doctor listened to his symptoms and reviewed the test results and said it was most likely just spasming muscles.
The first evening Barry had to wear a 24 hour blood pressure monitor that we took back the following day and the results were fine.
While we waited on the first day between consultants, Ali very kindly gave us a tour of the hospital and we talked to the gynaecologist about the hospital’s facilities. It is fairly new and everything is in pristine condition, and they have facilities to treat most medical cases. They also cater for medical tourism.
After the tour Ali took us up to the staff canteen and we enjoyed a very tasty and healthy Turkish lunch that is provided to all the team.
At the final consultation with the cardiologist, he gave Barry a beta blocker to help with the shaking hand, which was still obvious at the appointment. To my joy and surprise, several days later, this medication seems to be working!
Medical insurance didn’t cover the bill
We’ve been in Turkey for two consecutive years but changed insurance providers after the first year. This had the result that this year’s insurer wouldn’t pay the hospital costs, many of which aren’t covered until the second year.
The bill came to 2240 TL (AU$ 228.20) which we happily paid, as we thought it was very reasonable, when you consider that the cost of just an Exercise ECG Test in Australia is $316, (and a referral is required from one’s GP in order to claim a Medicare rebate of approximately $200).
Takeaways from the experience
Turkish hospitals (private and government run) have provided top class care and treatment and all staff were efficient and considerate. There is also little to no wait time in being seen and treated. Any costs incurred are very reasonable (given the Turkish Lira exchange rate to the AU$).
Barry is learning to communicate his discomfort to me on a more regular basis, so I know what’s going on with him. He is also realising that perhaps he spends too much time in front of his computer daily and that he’s possibly suffering from RSI (repetitive strain injury). He said he will make an effort to get up and stretch more often during the day and also go for walks to ensure his level of health continues.
The whole situation did knock us both for six and we are both feeling quite drained from the experience. However, I’m grateful that this proved to be something that was relatively minor, although it made me realise just how important it is to make the most of every moment in life. Because we just don’t know what is going to happen on a day to day basis.
Enjoy the moment. And do what you can to stay fit and healthy.
If you’d like to see what I’ve just written about, then check out this week’s video here.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll let you know where we visited while we had the car. But next week, we’ll take you around our new home town of Finike.
Until then, I wish you health, wealth, courage and a healthy dose of wisdom, as you take the actions to bring your dreams to life.
* As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. The Amazon affiliate links above are for your convenience. If you choose to use the link and purchase something on Amazon, we get a tiny percentage of commission (at no cost to you).